Lovely difficult lady

Image by Olivier Hoffschier

Once again, JungleDrums has paired up with ElevenCulture in order to bring you an exclusive interview.

This time we spoke to rising Cape Verdean talent Mayra Andrade shortly after her performance at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in London´s Soho (pictured above).

The young talent has opened up about her connections to Brazil, what the UK means to her… and much more!!!

Lívia Rangel - Representing Cape Verde made you a universal artist. You have now released two world music albums, one jazz album and “Lovely Difficult,” which is more pop and modern. Tell us a little bit about each moment in your career?

Mayra Andrade - Each of my albums is reflective of a specific time in my life. At first it was very important for me to become established within the music scene as a Cape Verdean. I view my nationality and culture as my uniqueness and strength. However, as my career has progressed I always added my own influences to my music because of my lifelong travels shaped me to do this. The first two studio albums are more traditional; the third is a more jazzy live recording at the Maison de la Radio in Paris. With this new body of work I wanted to go beyond my traditional musical background, I wanted to take a step towards more contemporary arrangements, and I wished to explore something more pop based. For me it was time to give life to all the artistic encounters that I have experienced these past 11 years in Paris.

LR - Singing in English allows you to target the market for world pop music but you’ve also recorded in Portuguese and in French. How do you choose the songs in your albums?

MA - On this record I wanted to set language issues aside and focus on the language that is music. I wanted to write a song, regardless of whether it is in Cape Verdean Creole or Portuguese. All the artists who participated in the album have very different backgrounds and styles . I feel this is evident throughout the album, as is the common thread with my voice, own compositions, the arrangements and the sound of the album. A challenge that Mike Pelanconi (Prince Fatty) and I have mastered together!

LR - What was it like choosing the songs from your four albums for the Lovely Difficult tour? Which song do people request the most?

MA - During the tour we mainly played songs from the most recent album and a few from Navega, my first album. Some of them (LuaTunuka, Comme s’il en pleuvaitDimokransa) have been important in my career so I always enjoy singing them, even though the arrangements have changed completely.

Victor Manoel -  You have been often compared to Cesária Évora, who passed away two years ago. How do you feel about that, do you think this is a fair comparison?

MA - Cesária and I certainly have in common that we are two women being completely in love with Cape Verde and the fact that we both have a voice that allows us to travel the world and let people discover our music. it’s absolutely wonderful! Apart from that, we had very different paths in life, which I feel is reflected in our music. We didn’t converse much about music, I had a huge affection for her. The first time I met her I was 12 years old; I brought her flowers on stage and once we were backstage I introduced myself as a singer. She gave me an important advice by telling me never to forget that the audience would be the one deciding to carry me on or let me go. Cesária offered me one of the bouquets. It was the very first time anyone had offered me flowers.

VM - Cape Verdean morna sounds surprisingly Brazilian, yet Cape Verdean Creole is hardly intelligible to Brazilians. How do you feel in relation to Brazilians, as closely associated or as very foreign?

MA - I have an extraordinarily enthusiastic and receptive audience in Brazil!  The Origins that we have in common (Africa and Portugal) help Brazilians to recognise themselves within my music, and at the same it intrigues them as they do not understand our Creole. There are rhythmic differences and intentions. The Brazillians and the Cape Verdeans have many things in common but many differences too which make us distinguished. In the case of Cape-Verdeans and Brazilian music its very interesting to observe our differences as they become a richness.

VM - What about your association with Portugal? Does Fado play a role in your music?

MA - Fado has not particularly influenced my music, but as I grew older and my grandfathers deceasing (who were Portuguese) I have learned to love it.

VM - What does London represent in your career?

MA - London is a city that has always greeted me with a smile and good humour! I have sung many times at the Barbican Centre and even at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Radio 3 Awards as best new discovery in 2008. I have kept many great memories of London! I think people are rather funny and very friendly. If you extend that question a little bit and talk about Brighton; an ultra-cool city where Lovely Difficult has been registered and where the video clip of song We used to call it Love was filmed. The UK is now part of my life.

Click here in order to buy Mayra Andrade’s latest album Lovely Difficult.

Or here in order to read this interview in Portuguese.


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